The Inn sues Konick, charges ‘abuse of process’

Court documents

There are links, at the end of this report, to the Inn’s 17-page petition and affidavits, and to Konick’s 64-page amended petition to his initial suit.

The Inn at Little Washington, and its chef and proprietor Patrick O’Connell, filed a countersuit in Rappahannock County Circuit Court last week seeking a monetary judgement and punitive damages of at least $100,000 against Rappahannock lawyer David Konick for his alleged “abuse of the legal process.”

Since March, Konick has filed two suits against the Inn, including one against the Inn and the town of Washington, for what he maintains were their illegal and improper actions in 2013 to participate in a “Town Beautification” partnership with Trinity Episcopal Church.

In this most recent entry in the escalating docket of dispute between Konick, the town and O’Connell (who’s also a town council member), the 17-page petition that Inn attorney David Fiske filed last Thursday (June 25) alleges that Konick’s two original complaints — plus his 64-page amended complaint, filed two weeks ago after Judge Jeffrey W. Parker ruled Konick didn’t have standing to bring suit but gave him a shot at amending his claim — are all part of a malicious plan to damage O’Connell’s and the Inn’s reputation and to extort money from the town.

Two affidavits are included in Fiske’s petition, which repeats charges of Konick’s malicious intent included in both the Inn’s response to Konick’s original March 20 suit (in which Fiske characterized Konick as a homophobe with a vendetta) as well as a later motion for sanctions — a motion that Judge Parker dismissed, with prejudice (meaning it could not be resubmitted) when Fiske failed to provide evidence at a hearing.

An affidavit from John Bennett, the town’s attorney, recalls his April 9 discussion with Konick (apparently during a settlement negotiation) during which Konick “indicated to me that he would only withdraw his Complaint if the Town would ‘pay me some money’ and that any payment to him could be through a third party, such that the payment of funds to him [Konick] would not need to be disclosed as paid directly to him.”

“Konick also told me,” Bennett states, “that unless the Town acceded to his ‘settlement proposal,’ he would continue to file additional suits against the parties involved and appeal to the Supreme Court all adverse decisions, such that the Town could not stand the money and energy involved in continuous litigation.

The second affidavit is from Washington Mayor John Sullivan, in which Sullivan cites a conversation with Rappahannock County supervisor Chris Parrish on March 15. Parrish told Sullivan, the mayor’s affidavit states, that Konick told Parrish he was “going to have the State Police arrest Mr. O’Connell the following day, or words to that effect.”

Konick emailed the following statement on Wednesday: “I have not yet had time carefully to study what appears to be the latest attempt to obfuscate the issues in this case and to intimidate anyone who has the temerity to question the Town’s actions and to bully them into silence. The facts of the case are not complex and could easily be resolved, but it seems that some folks would rather draw attention away from alleged unlawful conduct in order to avoid objective judicial review and a ruling on the merits of what was done.”

Konick’s suit alleged that the town violated constitutional church-state prohibitions when the town council two years ago appropriated $20,000 toward the Inn’s $200,000 plan to improve the intersection of Main and Middle streets, including the parking lot it leases from Trinity Episcopal Church; that it illegally abandoned the 170-foot stub end of Middle Street west of Main and gave it to the Inn; and that town officials, primarily O’Connell, violated conflict of interest laws in discussions of the project with other town officials in the months prior to the council’s actions.

Fiske would not comment on reports that the Inn is proceeding with plans to build a side entrance to the U.S. Post Office that leases ground-floor space in the Inn-owned Krebser Building on the southwest corner of Main and Middle, the landscaping of which would extend into the disputed stub street. The post office lease expires in August.

“We are still continuing to discuss [a new lease] with the post office,” Fiske said, “[but] it is still very much an open issue because of Konick.”

Fiske’s suit asks for a jury trial and punitive damages in addition to the $100,000 judgement. Konick has until July 20 to respond. Meanwhile, Fiske and town special counsel Robert Mitchell have until July 13 to respond to Konick’s amended petition.

Links to PDF copies of court documents:

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